Risk-taking behavior increases during adolescence, leading to potentially disastrous consequences. Social anxiety emerges in adolescence and may compound risk-taking propensity, particularly during stress and when reward potential is high. However, the manner in which social anxiety, stress, and reward parameters interact to impact adolescent risk-taking is unclear. To clarify this question, a community sample of 35 adolescents (15 to 18 yo), characterized as having high or low social anxiety, participated in a 2-day study, during each of which they were exposed to either a social stress or a control condition, while performing a risky decision-making task. The task manipulated, orthogonally, reward magnitude and probability across trials. Three findings emerged. First, reward magnitude had a greater impact on the rate of risky decisions in high social anxiety (HSA) than low social anxiety (LSA) adolescents. Second, reaction times (RTs) were similar during the social stress and the control conditions for the HSA group, whereas the LSA group’s RTs differed between conditions. Third, HSA adolescents showed the longest RTs on the most negative trials. These findings suggest that risk-taking in adolescents is modulated by context and reward parameters differentially as a function of social anxiety.
gambling; wheel of fortune; expected value; uncertainty; youths
This experimental study aimed to examine whether adolescents act in a riskier manner in the presence of peers and whether peer presence alone influences risk behavior or if a direct influence process is necessary. Utilizing a behavioral task assessing risk-taking, 183 older adolescents (18–20 year olds) came to the laboratory alone once and then were randomized to one of three conditions: alone, peers present, peers encouraging. An interaction was found such that at baseline there were no significant differences between the three conditions but at the experimental session there was a significant increase in risk task scores particularly for the encouraging condition. These findings challenge proposed models of the interaction between peer influence and risk taking by providing evidence that adolescents take more risks when being encouraged by peers but that the presence of peers on its own does not lead to more risks than when completing the task alone.
peer influence; risk-taking; older adolescent; behavioral task
Early alcohol use initiation is a well-established risk factor for the subsequent development of alcohol abuse and dependence. Separate lines of research indicate that impulsivity and risk-taking each are associated with early alcohol use. In this research, the association of the interaction of risk-taking and impulsivity with early alcohol initiation was examined. Results suggest the interaction between impulsivity and risk-taking was related to early alcohol initiation. Among children with lower levels of risk-taking, level of impulsivity was associated with beginning to drink. By contrast, among children with higher levels of risk-taking, level of impulsivity was not associated with the likelihood of initiating alcohol use. These findings suggest that early adolescence is a critical developmental period in which implementing an intervention to reduce impulsivity and risk-taking may be particularly effective to prevent the early initiation of alcohol use.
adolescents; alcohol use initiation; impulsivity; risk-taking
Adolescent substance use and abuse show associations with increases in disinhibitory constructs, including sensation seeking, risk taking propensity, and impulsivity. However, the longitudinal trajectories of these constructs from early to middle adolescence remain largely unknown. Thus, the current study examined these developmental trajectories in 277 adolescents (Mage = 11.00 at Wave 1), over five consecutive yearly waves. Controlling for age, Hierarchical Linear Modeling analyses showed that sensation seeking increased linearly, whereas risk taking propensity and impulsivity demonstrated curvilinear changes. Specifically, risk taking propensity increased in the first four waves of assessment but did not evidence changes at the last assessment wave. Impulsivity, on the other hand peaked at wave four before subsequently declining. A comparison between females and males and Black and White adolescents suggested that these groups’ trajectories were similar. Black adolescents’ sensation seeking trajectory differed from adolescents who belonged to the “Other” racial group (i.e., adolescents who neither self-identified as Black or White). Generally, the study findings replicate and extend earlier work indicating that these risk factors increase across early adolescence and begin to level-off during middle adolescence. The importance of understanding the natural course of these core constructs is of great importance for directing future relevant prevention and intervention work.
Developmental trajectories; sensation seeking; impulsivity; risk taking propensity; adolescence
Anxiety sensitivity has been implicated as an important risk factor, generalizable to most anxiety disorders. In adults, factor mixture modeling has been used to demonstrate that anxiety sensitivity is best conceptualized as categorical between individuals. That is, whereas most adults appear to possess normative levels of anxiety sensitivity, a small subset of the population appears to possess abnormally high levels of anxiety sensitivity. Further, those in the high anxiety sensitivity group are at increased risk of having high levels of anxiety and of having an anxiety disorder. This study was designed to determine whether these findings extend to adolescents. Factor mixture modeling was used to examine the best fitting model of anxiety sensitivity in a sample of 277 adolescents (M age = 11.0, SD = .81). Consistent with research in adults, the best fitting model consisted of two classes, one containing adolescents with high levels of anxiety sensitivity (n = 25), and another containing adolescents with normative levels of anxiety sensitivity (n = 252). Examination of anxiety sensitivity subscales revealed that the social concerns subscale was not important for classification of individuals. Convergent and discriminant validity of anxiety sensitivity classes were found in that membership in the high anxiety sensitivity class was associated with higher mean levels of anxiety symptoms, controlling for depression and externalizing problems, and was not associated with higher mean levels of depression or externalizing symptoms controlling for anxiety problems.
anxiety sensitivity; factor mixture modeling; adolescent; anxiety symptoms
Smoking-attributed mortality is the leading cause of death among individuals in residential substance use treatment. As such, identifying factors that influence smoking cessation is highly relevant and important for this group. Motivation to quit (MTQ) smoking is one such factor that is related to smoking cessation.
In the present study we examine the relationship between Anxiety Sensitivity (AS) and MTQ among individuals enrolled in a residential substance use treatment center in Washington, DC. In light of gender differences in smoking cessation as well as factors that contribute to cessation, we examined this relationship by gender in men and women using multiple group path analysis.
Participants (n = 472) completed a measure of MTQ, the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV-TR), a measure of AS, and self-reported their number of cigarettes smoked per day prior to entering a restricted environment.
Results indicated that AS was significantly related to MTQ in women (standardized path estimate = 0.21, p = .01), but was not significantly related to MTQ in men.
Findings suggest the importance of considering AS as a factor in MTQ for women and subsequent smoking cessation among individuals in residential substance use treatment. Results of this study contribute to the extant literature on predictors of MTQ and highlight the need for tailored cessation interventions with AS as one potential cessation treatment target.
anxiety sensitivity; tobacco cessation; motivation to quit; high risk groups; gender
The present study examined the role of distress tolerance (DT) and race in relation to cigarette smoking. For this study, between 2008 and 2010, 153 women (62.1% White, 37.9% African American) from the Washington, DC metropolitan area completed a computerized behavioral DT task and self-reported smoking history. Results suggest that low DT (OR = .23, p = .03) and the interaction between DT and race (OR = 4.58, p = .05) were significantly related to greater odds of being a smoker, such that African American women, but not White women, with low DT were at increased risk for being a lifetime smoker.
cigarette smoking; distress tolerance; race; disparities; high-risk groups
Children and adolescents seem to suffer from anxiety disorders at rates similar to adults. Interestingly, anxiety symptoms appear to generally decline over time within children as evidenced by lower rates in early and middle adolescence. There is some evidence that there may be heterogeneous subpopulations of adolescent children with different trajectories of anxiety symptoms, including a class of adolescents with elevated levels of anxiety that do not dissipate over time. Anxiety sensitivity has been identified as an important risk factor in the development of anxiety psychopathology. This study prospectively examined the development of anxiety symptoms in a sample of 277 adolescents (Mage=11.52; 44 % female, 56 % male) over a 3 year period including the influence of anxiety sensitivity on this development. Further, this study investigated whether there were distinct classes of adolescents based on their anxiety symptom trajectories and including anxiety sensitivity as a predictor. Consistent with other reports, findings indicated an overall decline in anxiety symptoms over time in the sample. However, three classes of adolescents were found with distinct anxiety symptom trajectories and anxiety sensitivity was an important predictor of class membership. Adolescents with elevated anxiety sensitivity scores were more likely to be classified as having high and increasing anxiety symptoms over time versus having moderate to low and decreasing anxiety symptoms over time. There are important implications for identification of adolescents and children who are at risk for the development of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety; Anxiety sensitivity; Growth mixture modeling; Adolescents
The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal relationship between attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, emotion regulation (ER) ability, and depressive symptoms within a diverse community sample of 277 youth, ages 9–12 (56 % male). Participants were drawn from a larger study examining adolescent risk behaviors, and completed annual assessments over 3 years. Youth ADHD symptoms were assessed at Time 1 (T1) using the parent-reported Disruptive Behavior Disorders Rating Scale, ER was assessed with the parent-reported Emotion Regulation Checklist at Time 2 (T2), and youth depressive symptoms were assessed using the self-reported Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scales at Time 3 (T3). Analyses examined T2 ER as a mediator between T1 ADHD symptoms (including the unique contributions of inattentive [IA] versus hyperactive/impulsive [HI] symptoms) and T3 depressive symptoms. Structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated the path model specified provided an excellent fit to the data. Tests of indirect effects suggested that T2 ER appears to be a significant mechanism that underlies the relationship between T1 ADHD and T3 depression, even when accounting for T1 oppositional defiant and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, while both T1 IA and HI symptoms had significant indirect effects on T3 depression through the mechanism T2 ER, HI proved a more robust predictor of T2 ER than IA. Results of this prospective study support cross-sectional findings pointing to ER as a potential mechanism linking ADHD and depressive symptoms in youth. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Emotion regulation; Depression; Emotion
College men are more likely to engage in health-compromising behaviors including risky drinking behavior, and experience more alcohol-related problems, including violence and arrest, as compared to women. The study of masculine norms or societal expectations, defined as beliefs and values about what it means to be a man, is one promising area of investigation that may help explain within-group differences and differential rates of alcohol use among men. Using the gender social learning model, we investigated the role of positive alcohol expectancies as an underlying mediator between masculine norms and alcohol use among college men. Data from 804 college adult men (Mean age = 20.43) were collected through a web-based assessment. Participants completed a self-report measure of binge drinking, frequency of drinking, quantity of drinks, conformity to masculine norms, and positive alcohol expectancies measures. Structural equation modeling was used to examine relations between masculine norms, alcohol expectancies and alcohol use. The masculine norms of “Playboy” and Risk-Taking were positively related to heavy alcohol use, while Emotional Control and Heterosexual Presentation were both negatively associated with alcohol use, after controlling for fraternity Greek status and positive expectancies. Playboy and Winning norms were positively associated with positive expectancies while Power Over Women was inversely related to positive expectancies which, in turn, were associated with heavier alcohol use. This study was a novel exploration into the multiple pathways and mediators through which positive alcohol expectancies may help explain and provide specificity to the masculinity and alcohol use relationship among college men.
Men; masculinity; alcohol use; alcohol expectancies; mediators
Distress tolerance (DT) is an established construct contributing to the onset and maintenance of psychopathology in adulthood; however, few studies have examined the role of DT in older adolescent psychopathology. Emerging data suggest that gender and race may influence this relation. Therefore, the current study examined the relation between gender, race, and DT on parent-reported internalizing and externalizing DSM-oriented symptoms among a community sample of 128, 14 to 18 year old adolescents. Results indicated a moderating effect of gender on affective problems, such that females with low DT, but not males, displayed significantly greater affective problems. Findings also indicated a significant moderating effect of race, such that Caucasians with low DT, but not African Americans, displayed significantly higher somatic, oppositional defiant, and conduct problems. These findings suggest that DT is an important clinical variable in older adolescence, particularly among Caucasians and females.
Although distress tolerance is an emerging construct of empirical interest, we know little about its temporal change, developmental trajectory, and prospective relationships with maladaptive behaviors. The current study examined the developmental trajectory (mean- and individual-level change, and rank-order stability) of distress tolerance in an adolescent sample of boys and girls (N=277) followed over a four-year period. Next we examined if distress tolerance influenced change in Externalizing (EXT) and Internalizing (INT) symptoms, and if EXT and INT symptoms in turn influenced change in distress tolerance. Finally, we examined if any of these trends differed by gender. Results indicated that distress tolerance is temporally stable, with little mean- or individual-level change. Latent growth models reported that level of distress tolerance is cross-sectionally associated with both EXT and INT symptoms, yet longitudinally, only associated with EXT symptoms. These results suggest that distress tolerance should be a focus of research on etiology and intervention.
Adolescence; Distress tolerance; Externalizing symptoms; Internalizing symptoms; Longitudinal
We examined a new structured interview of parent–child conflict that assesses parent and child perceptions of behavioral conflict about daily life topics (e.g., doing chores, homework), and whether discrepancies exist on beliefs about these topics. In a sample of 100 parents and children ages 10 to 17 years (M=13.5 years, 52 males, 57 % African-American), informants could reliably distinguish between perceived behavioral conflicts and perceived discrepant beliefs about topics. These scores were also significantly related to questionnaire reports of parent–child conflict. Parent and child questionnaire reports did not significantly differ, yet on the structured interview, parents reported significantly greater levels of perceived conflict and discrepant beliefs relative to child reports. Additionally, structured interview reports of conflict demonstrated incremental validity by relating to child self-reports of delinquent behaviors, when accounting for questionnaire conflict reports. The findings have implications for increasing understanding of the links between parent–child conflict and psychosocial outcomes.
Parent–child conflict; Multiple informants; Informant discrepancies; Informant disagreement; Structured interview; To(may)to-To(mah)to Interview
The primary aim of this study was to examine youth risk behaviors in relation to: (a) making a smoking quit attempt, and (b) successful cessation among adolescent smokers. Data were analyzed from the public use dataset of the 2003 national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The sample consisted of 2,033 students (weighted mean age of 16.3 years, 49.8% female, 73.6% White) who reported a history of daily smoking. While almost two-thirds (63.5%) of adolescent smokers reported making a quit attempt in the last year, only 10% of those were able to successfully quit. Factors associated with making a quit attempt included depression and participating in sports while high-risk sexual activity and engaging in substance use other than alcohol or marijuana were negatively related to making a quit attempt. Externalizing health behaviors (e.g., fighting, drug use, and high risk sexual activity) were associated with decreased likelihood of cessation. Findings from this study may inform efforts to develop more effective smoking prevention and treatment programs for youth.
Smoking cessation; Quit attempts; Health risk behaviors; Adolescents
College freshmen face a variety of academic and social challenges as they adjust to college life that can place them at risk for a number of negative outcomes, including depression and alcohol-related problems. Orientation classes that focus on teaching incoming students how to better cope with college-oriented stress may provide an opportunity to prevent the development of these adjustment problems. This article outlines a program based on behavioral activation that can be integrated into college orientation programs to provide a more comprehensive orientation experience. Data are presented from an initial pilot study in which 71 first-semester freshman at the University of Maryland participated in a 15-week, 2 hr per week orientation class (n = 37 in the behavioral activation-enhanced orientation classes and n = 34 in the control orientation as usual classes). Students’ depression and alcohol use were evaluated at the beginning, middle, and end of the course. Results indicated a Time × Group interaction such that problem drinking (but not consumption) was significantly reduced across assessments in the behavioral activation classes and largely unchanged in the standard classes. No difference was observed in depression scores; however, fairly low depression scores across the 3 time points may have limited the opportunity to observe any meaningful impact of the orientation classes on depression. The authors conclude with a discussion of the implications of their findings for preventing adjustment problems among incoming college students and future directions.
behavioral activation; college students; alcohol problems; depression
Latinos with limited English proficiency (LEP) experience multiple barriers to accessing efficacious mental health treatments. Using a stage model of behavioral therapies research, this Stage 1b investigation evaluated the Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD), an intervention which may be well-equipped to address existing treatment barriers.
A sample of 10 Latinos with LEP and depressive symptomatology participated in a 10-session,direct (i.e., literal) Spanish-language translation of BATD, with no other cultural modifications. Participants were assessed at each session for depressive symptomatology and for the proposed BATD mechanisms: activity engagement and environmental reward. One month after treatment, participants were reassessed and interviewed to elicit feedback about BATD.
Hierarchical Linear Model analyses were used to measure BATD outcomes. Results showed depressive symptomatology decreased (p<.001), while both activation (p = .04) and environmental reward (p = .02) increased over the course of BATD. Increases in activation corresponded concurrently with decreases in depression (p = .01), while environmental reward preceded decreases in depressive symptomatology (all p’s≤ .04). Follow-up analyses revealed sustained clinical gains in depression and activation, and an increase in environmental reward at follow-up.
Participant interviews conducted one month after treatment conclusion indicated that BATD is an acceptable treatment for our sample of interest. Despite the limitations inherent to a study restricted to sample of ten, preliminary outcomes of this Stage I research suggest that members of this otherwise underserved group showed improvements in depressive symptomatology and are willing to participate in and adhere to BATD. The study’s positive outcomes suggest that a Stage II randomized clinical trial is a logical next step.
Spanish-speaking Latinos; depression; behavioral activation; treatment development
Childhood emotional abuse (CEA) is a pervasive problem associated with negative sequelae such as elevated depressive symptoms. Key stress-related genes, such as the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, interact with childhood abuse to produce elevated depressive symptoms in older adolescent girls, but not in older adolescent boys. To date, studies have not examined this relationship as a function of CEA specifically or among younger adolescents. To extend prior work, we examined the effects of the 5-HTTLPR and CEA on depressive symptoms among 10–12-year-old youth. Based on previous findings, we expected a main effect of CEA on depressive symptoms among all youth, but only expected an interactive effect between the 5-HTTLPR and CEA on depressive symptoms in girls. In the current study, 222 youth (mean age 11.02 years, 44.1% girls, 51.6% Caucasian, 33.0% African American, 2.7% Latino, and 12.7% other) and their parent(s)/guardian(s) completed the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Emotional Abuse subscale of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and provided saliva samples for genotyping the 5-HTTLPR. Results indicate that CEA, but not the 5-HTTLPR, was related to elevated depressive symptoms among boys. Among girls, each copy of the s allele of the 5-HTTLPR was related to increased depressive symptoms, but only for those who had experienced CEA. Our results extend prior findings by specifically examining CEA and by focusing on 10–12-year-old youth. These results, although preliminary, suggest that focusing on the interplay between putative genetic markers and a broader range of environmental events, such as CEA, might allow researchers to determine factors differentially influencing the later emergence of sex differences in depressive symptoms.
emotional abuse; depressive symptoms; 5-HTTLPR; sex differences; early adolescence
Major depressive disorder is highly prevalent among Latinos with limited English language proficiency in the United States. Although major depressive disorder is highly treatable, barriers to depression treatment have historically prevented Latinos with limited English language proficiency from accessing effective interventions. The project seeks to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral activation treatment for depression, an empirically supported treatment for depression, as an intervention that may address some of the disparities surrounding the receipt of efficacious mental health care for this population.
Following a pilot study of behavioral activation treatment for depression with 10 participants which yielded very promising results, the current study is a randomized control trial testing behavioral activation treatment for depression versus a supportive counseling treatment for depression. We are in the process of recruiting 60 Latinos with limited English language proficiency meeting criteria for major depressive disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th and 5th Edition for participation in a single-center efficacy trial. Participants are randomized to receive 10 sessions of behavioral activation treatment for depression (n = 30) or 10 sessions of supportive counseling (n = 30). Assessments occur prior to each session and at 1 month after completing treatment. Intervention targets include depressive symptomatology and the proposed mechanisms of behavioral activation treatment for depression: activity level and environmental reward. We will also examine other factors related to treatment outcome such as treatment adherence, treatment satisfaction, and therapeutic alliance.
This randomized controlled trial will allow us to determine the efficacy of behavioral activation treatment for depression in a fast-growing, yet highly underserved population in US mental health services. The study is also among the first to examine the effect of the proposed mechanisms of change of behavioral activation treatment for depression (that is, activity level and environmental reward) on depression over time. To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial to compare an empirical-supported treatment to a control supportive counseling condition in a sample of depressed, Spanish-speaking Latinos in the United States.
Clinical Trials Register: NCT01958840; registered 8 October 2013.
Behavioral activation; Randomized controlled trial; Latinos; Depression; Spanish-speaking
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) regulates the toxic effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). The AHR repressor (AHRR) is an AHR target gene and functions as a ligand-induced repressor of AHR; however, its mechanism of inhibition is controversial. Recently, we reported that TCDD-inducible poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (TiPARP; ARTD14) also acts as a repressor of AHR, representing a new player in the mechanism of AHR action. Here we compared the ability of AHRR- and TiPARP-mediated inhibition of AHR activity. TCDD increased AHRR mRNA levels and recruitment of AHRR to cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) in MCF7 cells. Knockdown of TiPARP, but not AHRR, increased TCDD-induced CYP1A1 mRNA and AHR protein levels. Similarly, immortalized TiPARP−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and AHRR−/− MEFs exhibited enhanced AHR transactivation. However, unlike TiPARP−/− MEFs, AHRR−/− MEFs did not exhibit increased AHR protein levels. Overexpression of TiPARP in AHRR−/− MEFs or AHRRΔ8, the active isoform of AHRR, in TiPARP−/− MEFs reduced TCDD-induced CYP1A1 mRNA levels, suggesting that they independently repress AHR. GFP-AHRRΔ8 and GFP-TiPARP expressed as small diffuse nuclear foci in MCF7 and HuH7 cells. GFP-AHRRΔ8_Δ1-49, which lacks its putative nuclear localization signal, localized to both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, while the GFP-AHRRΔ8_Δ1-100 mutant localized predominantly in large cytoplasmic foci. Neither GFP-AHRRΔ8_Δ1-49 nor GFP-AHRRΔ8_Δ1-100 repressed AHR. Taken together, AHRR and TiPARP repress AHR transactivation by similar, but also different mechanisms.
aryl hydrocarbon receptor; AHR (Aryl hydrocarbon receptor) repressor; TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin)-inducible-poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase; ADP-ribosyltransferase diptheria-like toxin 14; 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin; transactivation
Although adolescents frequently engage in a variety of risky behaviors, much remains unknown about the specific etiologies of such tendencies. Candidate genetic variants, such as the COMT Val158Met polymorphism, may be related to risk-taking propensity, particularly as this variant is linked to functional enzymatic differences influencing dopamine function in regions including the prefrontal cortex. The present study aimed to examine the COMT Val158Met variant in relation to risk taking propensity in a community sample of youth. As part of a larger longitudinal study on adolescent risk behaviors, 223 youths (average age 11.3 years) from the metropolitan Washington D.C. area completed a measure of risk-taking propensity, the Balloon Analogue Risk Task-Youth Version (BART-Y), and provided saliva samples for DNA extraction and genotyping. Results indicate that females, but not males, who are carriers of the COMT158Met allele had higher risk-taking propensity scores on the BART-Y compared to Val homozygotes. Analyses were also conducted in the 111 European American participants, and results were consistent with those of the full sample analyses. This study represents the first investigation of a genetic substrate of risk-taking propensity, measured by a behavioral task, in youth. Results should be taken as quite preliminary, given the small sample. Implications are discussed.
Risk taking; BART; COMT Val158Met; Dopamine; Adolescents
Risk-taking behavior involves making choices with uncertain positive or negative outcomes. Evidence suggests that risk-taking behavior is influenced by emotional state. One such emotional experience is social anxiety, which has been related to both risk-avoidant and risk-seeking decision making. The present study examined a community sample of 34 adolescents grouped into low (Low SA Group) and high (High SA Group) social anxiety (SA). Both groups were compared on changes in performance on a risk taking task (Balloon Analogue Risk Task) between a social threat condition (modified Trier Social Stress Test, High Stress) and a control condition (Low Stress). These conditions were administered on different days, and the order was counterbalanced across subjects. A group x condition interaction revealed that the High SA Group showed greater risk-taking behavior when exposed to the High Stress Condition compared to the Low Stress Condition, while the Low SA Group evidenced no difference between the two conditions. Conceivable interpretations for the increased risk behavior under the condition of social stress for those high in social anxiety are discussed as well as implications for understanding the complex relationship between social anxiety and risk behavior.
Risk-taking behavior; social anxiety; adolescent; in-vivo anxiety manipulation
Both theory and empirical evidence support possible associations between two candidate genetic polymorphisms (SLC6A4 5-HTTLPR l/s and COMT Val158Met – rs4680 variants) and emotion-regulation difficulties. One particular form of emotion-regulation difficulty, distress intolerance, has been measured using a behavioral assessment in youth; data indicate a relationship with poor psychological functioning. No prior study has investigated genetic influences on emotion-regulation difficulties in youth. As part of a larger longitudinal study on adolescent risk behaviors, 218 10-14 year-old youths from the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area completed a measure of distress intolerance, the Behavioral Indicator of Resilience to Distress (BIRD), and provided saliva samples for DNA extraction and genotyping. Results indicate that those with one or two copies of the s allele of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism were more likely to perform poorly on the task (i.e., choose to quit) than were those homozygous for the l allele. Participants who were Val allele carriers of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism were also more likely to quit the task compared to Met homozygotes. A summative risk allele score was created to combine the two polymorphisms, and each risk allele was associated with a 1.75 fold increased likelihood of quitting the task. Exploratory analyses revealed that emotional abuse moderated the relationship between the 5-HTTLPR and BIRD performance, as well as the genetic risk allele and the BIRD. This is the first investigation of genetic predictors of a behavioral measure of tolerance to distress. Results suggest that distress tolerance is at least partially regulated by specific genetic variants. Implications are discussed.
COMT; 5-HTTLPR; Distress Tolerance
A long line of theoretical and empirical evidence implicates negative reinforcement as a process underlying the etiology and maintenance of risky alcohol use behaviors from adolescence through emerging adulthood. However, the bulk of this literature has relied on self-report measures and there is a notable absence of behavioral modes of assessments of negative reinforcement-based alcohol-related risk-taking. To address this clear gap in the literature, the current study presents the first published data on the reliability and validity of the Maryland Resource for the Behavioral Utilization of the Reinforcement of Negative Stimuli (MRBURNS), which is a modified version of the positive reinforcement-based Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART).
Participants included a convenience sample of 116 college freshmen ever regular drinkers (aged 18–19) who completed both behavioral tasks; self-report measures of negative reinforcement/avoidance constructs and of positive reinforcement/appetitive constructs to examine convergent validity and discriminant validity, respectively; and self-report measures of alcohol use, problems, and motives to examine criterion validity.
The MRBURNS evidenced sound experimental properties and reliability across task trials. In support of convergent validity, risk taking on the MRBURNS correlated significantly with negative urgency, difficulties in emotion regulation and depressive and anxiety-related symptoms. In support of discriminant validity, performance on the MRBURNS was unrelated to risk taking on the BART, sensation seeking, and trait impulsivity. Finally, pertaining to criterion validity, risk taking on the MRBURNS was related to alcohol-related problems but not heavy episodic alcohol use. Notably, risk taking on the MRBURNS was associated with negative reinforcement-based but not with positive reinforcement-based drinking motives.
Data from this initial investigation suggest the utility of the MRBURNS as a behavioral measure of negative-reinforcement based risk-taking that can provide a useful compliment to existing self-report measures to improve our understanding of the relationship between avoidant reinforcement processes and risky alcohol use.
Adolescence; problem alcohol use; negative reinforcement; risk taking propensity
To investigate the relationship between childhood neighborhood environment and risk-taking propensity in adolescence using an objective environmental measure and laboratory-based risk-taking propensity measure.
Childhood neighborhood disorder predicted risk-taking propensity on a behavioral measure during early adolescence (β=1.8, p<0.01).
Early toxic environments impact laboratory-based behavioral manifestations of risk.
Neighborhood; risk-taking; adolescent behavior; environmental exposure